The small, rural church of Santa Maria dell’Oriolo represents the first ecclesiastical foundation of Montelupo which existed even before the thirteenth century village was built. The chapel is located outside the town in the direction of Sinio, not far from the area’s first settlement: the late middle ages village of Riolo, formerly called dell’Oriolo or Oriolo where a villa with a castle once stood.
The chapel stands on a small hill overlooking the Talloria Valley, from which one can admire the Serralunga d’Alba hills. Although the present building was erected in 1712, and the bell tower is of nineteenth-century origin, the first foundation of Santa Maria dell’Oriolo dates back to Medieval times.
The name of Santa Maria dell’Oriolo perhaps derives from the Latin appellative rivolum, because in ancient documents it was referred to as Sacellum Beatae Virginis ad rivolum, with reference to the Riolo stream that runs at the foot of the hill and flows into the Talloria stream.
In all likelihood, Santa Maria dell’Oriolo was the first parish church of Montelupo at least until the 1200s, when the village under construction did not yet have its own religious building. It was not uncommon for ancient parishes to be built outside of the villae, even at a considerable distance from the town.
After the construction of the old parish of Montelupo (the present church dedicated to the SS. Name of Jesus and Francesco di Sales dating back to the thirteenth century), it is likely that Santa Maria dell’Oriolo was gradually abandoned and fell into ruins. Thus in the eighteenth century, as we read in the Apostolic Visitation dated 1730, the Santa Maria dell’Oriolo chapel was “de novo redificata” thanks to the alms of the Montelupo community, which the church still belongs to.
Crediti Foto: Tanager Photography